By Hania Raza '24
Darcy McGrath’s “Creating Your Favorite Spaces” taught students how an architect and interior designer has to think differently about a space.
The session started out with a presentation, explaining how, in order to please a client, interior designers have to think about what the space will be used for, how to make it visually pleasing and think about safety or building code. Then, McGrath showed some of the spaces she designed as well as some photos of what those buildings looked like before she designed their interior for comparison. Next, students chose from a selection of pictures and color palettes. To practice how to make a room aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for the setting, each student also chose some paint colors as well as textures to add into their space.
Kinsley Alcorn ‘23 enjoyed learning about interior design as well. “My favorite part of the interior design session was seeing the effect of color on spaces,” Alcorn said, “Learning how different wall paints can drastically change the feeling of a room was amazing.”
At the end of the session, McGrath showed some of the spaces she has worked on in a program that converted the room into virtual reality. She uses this often in order to help the client envision what she will be creating. She explained that an architect or interior designer has to be completely certain of what the client wants before they start the process because, if the space is 80 percent done and the client realizes it is not what they had in mind, it will be very difficult to start from scratch again.
“The most challenging part of my job is getting enough information out of our clients to be able to give them the building that they’re looking for, that functions for everything they need and that is also aesthetically pleasing,” McGrath said. “They are spending a lot of money on a building, and you want it to work for them, you want it to be easy to maintain, and you want it to look great.”
A Nonpartisan State of the World Report Featuring Award-Winning Journalist Terry McCarthy Reflection
By Hania Raza '24
As a young student journalist, I found this seminar/Q&A to be very valuable and interesting. Terry McCarthy began the event with the interesting story of how he got into journalism. Because he grew up in Ireland, he was not able to study it as he would have been able to in the United States. Rather, McCarthy’s interest in non-partisan journalism was sparked by an article he had read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The writer was able to interview the Isralei Prime Minister, who was being pressured to invade the area of Lebanon where Palestenian refugees were at the time. He found out that the Prime Minister was torn because his wife was very sick then. He had to choose whether to stay and take care of his family or take action for Israel. The writer of this article was also able to interview the leader of Palestine. Describing the meeting with lots of imagery, the writer humanized the conflict and showed two different views. McCarthy, in this way, found a position where he was able to pursue a high level of inquiry by learning about the different sides of a story. At the end of the event, during the Q&A, McCarthy gave two pieces of advice to student journalists. Young journalists should, firstly, learn the many parts of journalism. In these times, many people have had to multitask and do their own photography, voiceovers and shoot their own videos, so learning the many modes of journalism will be a useful skill for the future. Secondly, McCarthy talked about the importance of going outside of one's comfort zone. This will teach a writer how to understand a story they do not know much about. After learning how to listen and pull a story out of someone, a journalist will be able to show that they truly care and will treat a story with respect.
By Hania Raza '24
America is a nation built by immigrants, but the policies regarding immigration do not often get the attention from lawmakers and administration that they deserve.
Throughout recent history, people from all around the world have come to America, the “land of opportunity,” looking to make a life for themselves. They often start off doing the jobs that nobody wants to do, and even that is better than the dangers they sometimes face in their own countries. The American government therefore should create a just and quick process of obtaining legal citizenship, provided that the security concerns should not be overlooked.
The current imigration policy has many issues. It has caused many people to be forced to go back to their previous countries, where it may be extremely dangerous for them to live.
Currently the United States immigraion system is severely backlogged, making it very difficult to become an American. Undocumented immigrants are considered criminals. Any immigrant unable to show correct documents is liable to be detained and deported.
The last administration, of President Trump, took a number of steps to make it even more difficult for anyone to enter and live in the United States legally, using the pandemic as an excuse.
According to an Associated Press article from October 2020, White House officials influenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the flow of immigation in order to protect Americans from the pandemic. The CDC was given this authority in Title 42 of the Public Service Act.
The Biden Administration has made some progress regarding immigration. The travel ban on many Muslim-majority countries has been lifted. However, against the hopes of many immigrant families at the southern border, Title 42 is still in effect and has expelled over one million people without processing in 2021.
However, according to a Vox article from August of 2021, “Experts have repeatedly said that migrants can be processed and admitted to the US safely.” The article further says that “In March, the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Congress that less than 6 percent of migrants at the border had tested positive for Covid-19, a lower percentage than the Texas positivity rate at that time.”
This problem has personally touched many people, including my family. My cousin has spent many years of his youth trying to obtain citizenship legally. He came to the United States to have more opportunities and be able to live a better life than in Pakistan, but he was forced to put his life on hold in order to keep a legal status. After becoming an accountant, he wants to start his own firm, creating jobs for many. I have witnessed much of my family struggle to stay in America and have lived my whole life aware of this issue.
This global problem should be discussed more often so that more voices can be heard by those in power. The American government needs to begin giving more attention to the United States immigration policy to make it a just process for all immigrants.
By Hania Raza '24
In the world of television shows, there are many beautiful creations, but the following are my most memorable ones.
10. The Letter for the King
The Letter for the King, a Netflix Original series released in 2020, depicts the story of a boy who must deliver a secret letter to the King. With only six episodes, the directors, Alex Holmes and Felix Thompson, were able to tell an adventurous tale taking place in medieval times for kids.
9. Alexa & Katie
Alexa & Katie, also a Netflix Original series, is a story about a high school girl, Alexa, who suffers from cancer, and her best friend, Katie. Each episode is a new experience that the friends go through together, and each of the four seasons is a year of their highschool careers.
iCarly aired on Nickelodeon from 2007 - 2012. It is set apart from other television shows because it is a show about a show. It follows the story of a group of friends that start an internet show, iCarly. The series became very popular in 2010, and certainly holds some nostalgia for people who used to watch as kids. It appealed to many because, growing up surrounded by the internet, kids wanted to start their own channel on YouTube or start an internet show like iCarly.
7. Stranger Things
Stranger Things is a Netflix Original series, based on a conspiracy theory, about a group of kids discovering a government cover-up during the Cold War. The show’s first season was released in 2016 and the fourth season is set to come out in mid-2022. The viewers are able to see the child actors grow up in front of them, on screen.
6. The Umbrella Academy
The Umbrella Academy, first released in early 2019, shows the story of seven children with extraordinary gifts, who are adopted by the billionaire owner of the academy. With two seasons, this Netflix Original series was fairly well received. It is different from most superhero shows, depicting the academy as a big family with unhealthy relationships.
5. The Dragon Prince
The Dragon Prince, another Netflix Original, is the first animated series on this list. Following the story of princes and elves trying to end the long standing conflict between their nations, the show’s target audience was kids ages 9-12, though it can be enjoyed by all ages. It has a positive representation of different sexualities, disabilities and races.
4. A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events, also a Netflix Original series, is a dark story about three siblings being followed around by the villainous Count Olaf, who will do anything to get the large fortune that their parents left for them. In every episode, the fourth wall is broken by the narrator, Lemony Snicket, and the audience is warned of the sad tales they will see.
3. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a Netflix Original animated series, is a reboot based on another series made in 1985. It follows the story of a group of teenagers who have to save their planet against the Horde. She-Ra is seen as a powerful role model for many women and girls. The series is one of the few children’s shows with LGBTQ+ representation, which is impactful for many.
2. Anne with an E
Anne with an E was based on the book Anne of Green Gables and portrays the story of a young girl, Anne, who is trying to adapt to life with her new adoptive parents. Taking place in the late 19th century, the show was able to accurately show many societal issues, like racism and gender inequality, during that time. In addition, the show brings awareness to the residential schools that Native American children were forced into, away from their families, and never seen again.
1. Avatar the Last Airbender
Avatar the Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 - 2008 with three seasons. It is a story about three nations, Earth, Water and Air, that have been attacked by the Fire nation for the past century. Each nation has its own benders, in other words, people born with their nation’s powers. There are firebenders, waterbenders, airbenders, and earthbenders, but only one master of all the elements, the avatar. The avatar must stop the war and bring peace to the world. Though this series was targeted towards a younger audience, it can appeal to teens or adults because there are some interesting small details. For example, the fighting styles of each group of benders are based on real life fighting styles, which match with the characteristics of the nation. Water benders are seen using Tai Chi, which is characterized by control rather than aggression.
By Hania Raza '24
Not many people can say they have traveled around the world by the age of 15.
Though they spent half of their childhood living in the United States, Konur Onufer ‘24 and Isabella Onufer ‘24 moved around the world throughout their early years to countries including China, Nigeria, Cuba and Barbados.
Their mother, who is a former diplomat, traveled for her job, so the twins were able to experience living in many different countries. These Global Studies scholars recently signed up for National High School Model United Nations (MUN), a tradition since 2013 for the school. North Cross has attended eight HarvardMUNs, six IvyLeagueMUNCs (Penn), and one PrincetonMUNC.
Last year, the school did not attend a conference because of COVID-19, but it is starting back up again to open new opportunities for the high school students. This year, North Cross will attend Model UN in New York City, which will take place in New York Hilton Midtown.
This program allows students to travel across the country and meet other students from all over the nation to discuss major global issues. Each accepted school is assigned a country, and students involved must research about and be prepared to discuss topics from their country’s point of view. Students role play as delegates on specific committees in the United Nations (UN) from their assigned country.
After submitting their final committee decisions this week to the Model UN faculty advisors, Hannah Ewing and Ryan DeMarco, all of the students are waiting eagerly for their committee assignments. When asked about what committees he hopes to be on, Konur said “The Trade and Development committee. That one really interested me, I liked that one a lot. I was also interested in the Group of 20 committee as well as the Food and Agriculture.”
Ewing explained some of the benefits for the students attending Model UN. “I think one of the first benefits is just getting to meet other students who are interested in the same thing as them. It’s always a good thing to have access to people from different walks of life,” Ewing said. “It’s so important for students to be aware of global issues, because we’re all people in the world, we need to know about things that affect us.”
Along with being involved in Model UN, both Konur and Isabella are in the Global Studies program and take some classes focussing on World History, and their teachers recognize them as students who stand out in class.
Dr. Daniel Hood, who teaches AP World History, expressed that Isabella “has a depth of experience and foreknowledge that helps her to explain things to her classmates in simpler terms.”
Konur also takes the Science, Arts, Religion and Technology elective taught by Ewing. “He’s amazing. He has such an inquisitive mind that keeps everyone on their toes, which is really good,” Ewing said. “He makes me question how much I know about the things I’m teaching him. Whenever I’m prepping a class, I always stop and think ‘What questions might Konur ask?’”
This year is the first year North Cross has received such an influential country assignment, China. Though this opportunity allows more students to get involved with a total of 17 committees to fill, it also puts a lot of weight on the delegates. “Well I think that being assigned to a big country certainly puts a certain amount of pressure,” Konur said, “and I’m very surprised that a small school like North Cross managed to get China. I think that’s really cool, and I think that we can probably rise to the challenge pretty well.”
Ewing expressed that some topics are difficult to talk about from the perspective of China, but overall, it is a very good opportunity. “It also gives us the chance to take more students, which wouldn’t be the case if we had such a small country, like that we’ve had previously,” said Ewing. “It does put pressure, and obviously, there are some topics that are specifically difficult for China to talk about, as our country, so that’ll be a challenge, but I think, with the right support, we’ll manage.”
By Hania Raza '24
This lecture was very informative, and I learned a lot from listening to Leonard Pitts Jr. speak. The main topic of his lecture was America’s gravest crisis, the misinformation crisis, where knowable facts are denied. This crisis has existed for many decades, but the degree to which it is affecting our lives is much higher today. The misinformation crisis feeds other crises and makes them worse. If it is not solved, none of the other crises will be either because, when we cannot agree on facts, we cannot solve our problems with debate. Mr. Pitts mentioned four examples of this: COVID-19, racial reckoning, climate change and political polarization. All of these major crises have been made worse by ignorant people who preach to the ill informed. He also provided reasons for why this crisis has become so immense only now by explaining the “perfect storm,” which caused it. The “perfect storm” is made from distrust of authority, internet and social media, journalistic cowardice and miseducation of the American student. Towards the end of his lecture, Mr. Pitts talked about some of the possible solutions. For example, no one should use social media as a source for news, and everyone should make their assumptions fit the facts. This event reminded me of one of the senior speeches last year, where the topic of “The Double Standard of Mainstream Media” was discussed. I would recommend this lecture to anyone, as it is very relevant right now.
By Hania Raza '24
The homecoming parade has become a school wide tradition in recent years. Everybody looks forward to seeing floats and decorations, but there is hard work going on behind the scenes to make this parade happen.
SCA Advisor Susan Wenk, played a big role in planning the parade. Last year, when COVID-19 hit, some of the homecoming traditions were canceled to keep everyone safe. The pep-rally was canceled, so Wenk, along with the SCA, thought of the parade as a new, outdoor tradition.
“We tried to think of something unique that we could do, that could be outside, and it would be safe. So the parade started last year and it went so well,” Wenk said. “The upper school students like it, the lower school students just cheer so much, and they get so excited, and the middle school really liked it.”
Because this parade is a school-wide event, the theme of Cars, the movie, was chosen. It came down to two people, Dylan England ‘23 and Cross Thompson ‘22, who proposed the theme.
“One day, Dylan England, who is a football player and a racecar driver, brought his car to school. Cross Thompson said ‘You know what would be good, since we do the parade now and the cars, we should do a Cars theme, like Life is a Highway,’” Wenk said. “The little ones would love the cars.”
Wenk went on to say that another reason they wanted to choose Cars as the theme was to get the lower school more involved, as they might know the characters very well.
“You’re gonna see balloons, cars, there’s gonna be a big arch with checkered flags that the parade’s gonna go through,” said Wenk. “The littles are gonna have balloons of Lightning McQueen and all the characters. Even the middle school is gonna be decorated.”
Kinsley Alcorn ‘23, the Vice President of the SCA, explained how everyone has been working on the parade theme for a long time, since last year. “The theme was already set in our minds by last year,” Alcorn said, “when we saw Dylan’s amazing race car.”
Wenk added, “I would say, we started on homecoming on July 1.”
After watching the homecoming parade, Aashee Nanda ‘24 commented on her favorite part of the parade, which was “getting to see the variety of students, costumes and cars that managed to stroll along the street.”
One of the main challenges involving planning for this year’s homecoming was that their plans kept getting bigger. For the PowderPuff game, there was originally going to be a halftime show, where they called out names for prizes, but some of the football players wanted to prepare a dance-off.
“We started working on [the halftime show] at the beginning of October,” Wenk said. “We have been in the CAC every lunch for almost three weeks now, but it was so much fun. So, even though it gets bigger, there’s so many people, and our student body is the best. I mean, I’ve never seen more spirit than this year.”
Wenk expressed that, with over 50 people, the SCA contributed a lot and was very involved in making this parade happen.
“We not only have our executive board, but we have so many people that have joined SCA that we call honorary SCA,” Wenk said. “With all of the people in SCA, with our elected officers, and with the great student body that we have, I think that it just all works out here.”
By Hania Raza '24
Michael Koss, calculus teacher, and Timothy Naginey, physics teacher, are the two faculty advisors of the robotics club, but they also share many more interests.
Robotics sparked both Koss and Naginey’s interest after they started teaching at North Cross. After Naginey heard about the robotics team, he wanted to get involved this year. Koss, on the other hand, got introduced to the team when he assumed the role of their bus driver a couple of years ago.
Both Naginey and Koss also expressed that it was natural for them to take over the robotics team because of their background in STEM. Koss has his Ph.D in logic-based philosophy from Indiana University and Naginey earned his doctorate from Oxford University.
“I always want to learn more about computer programming. I’ve done a little bit, but not very much, and that’s a big part of it, so I joined in as the assistant coach for the team,” Koss said.“It also fit because, as a math teacher, I'm sort of part of the STEM program as well, and that’s one of the main STEM extracurricular activities that we have. So it was a good fit and a good way for me to be involved and contribute.”
Similarly, Naginey’s experience in physics contributed to his choice to take on this position.
“I know a little bit about circuits and electronics from my physics degree,” Naginey said, “and there’s also a lot of other physics in robots, like just simple movement and acceleration of different parts.”
This year, much of the team is brand new to robotics, so currently, they are figuring out some of the basics.
“We just want to get a working robot first,” Naginey said. “We have like a base with wheels and we’re trying to get the code to work to power the thing, and so just the very basic stuff right now. All of us are just trying to figure out what we’re doing.”
“Our goal right now is to build a robot that can move around on the wheels that we put on it,” Koss said, “and if we can accomplish that, that’s gonna be a really big successful accomplishment for a team that’s so new to all of this.”
One of the students who stands out in the team, Umair Rasul ‘24, is often working on the robot after school, on his own time, and coming up with new ideas for it.
“We finished building a prototype to figure out all the mechanics for it to move. We are currently working on coding the robot to move in different directions,” Rasul said. “My favorite part is seeing the parts that I built and coded working successfully when we got the robot to move.”
The robotics team will be competing in the First Tech Challenge Frenzy Competition this year in December. Everyone on the team will be able to attend, but only one coach and two drivers will be involved in controlling the robot as the competition is going on. If something breaks or needs to be changed, the whole team will be there to work on that.
The robotics team went to a kick-off meeting this year at the Roanoke County library, where they met some other teams from the region.
“We all watched the video about this year’s challenge,” said Naginey, “and then we had pizza together and we discussed ideas about how we can get the robot to do what it has to do.”
Before these coaches got involved in robotics, they were both intrigued by calculus. Naginey said that his interest in calculus began in college, when he took his first calculus class.
“Calculus is the language of Physics,” Naginey said. “The first lecture of my first calculus class, he [the calculus professeur] talked about Zeno's paradox, which is a problem in philosophy, and the beginning of the math class was a philosophical paradox. From then on, I just loved that class.”
Koss’ interest in calculus also began in a similar way.
“It was really when I got to calculus that I thought ‘oh I really can see how fascinating this is and understand the ideas involved a lot more,’” Koss said, “So that really grabbed my attention, it made me go like ‘oh this is a really powerful, intellectual idea. I can see why this is a big deal historically’ and it was really interesting to see math in its full power, where you are not just learning some rules for manipulating symbols, but you’re seeing what those things mean, why they’re so useful.”
Both Naginey and Koss also share a fascination with music. Naginey plays guitar, while Koss plays the bass. They both played a little bit in a band together last year in the North Cross talent show, Muses at Bay, as well as the end-of-the-year faculty party. Koss expressed that he mostly plays the type of music that is somewhat repetitive, like certain types of jazz, rock and funk music.
“With the bass especially, a big part of it and a lot of genres of music, is you're playing something that all the other instruments in the band use as like a foundation for what they're doing,” Koss said. “The bass part then can often be a little repetitive, but if it works out well, it’s the part that gets you stamping your feet and grooving along to the music, and that’s what I want when I’m playing bass.”
By Hania Raza '24
As the newly appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Debbie Taylor has recently taken charge of a very important mission.
Taylor implements programs for the students and provides training for the staff to promote diversification and fairness. These are vital values to have in all educational institutions, and they are crucial for the advancement and improvement of a civilized society.
“North Cross is a school that produces future leaders, teachers, politicians, doctors and lawyers,” said Taylor. “Having diversity and inclusion at a place like North Cross helps to make our next generation better than the present and the last.”
Taylor has a sound background and experience in such projects. Before coming to North Cross, Taylor went to Johnson C. Smith University and then worked for 15 years at the John Crosland School in Charlotte, NC, an independent school for students with learning differences. She also worked at Brookstone Christian Schools for four years and James Martin Middle School for four years. She started her work in the DEI program at her last school, but she has been passionate about it for the majority of her life. She expressed that it has always been a big part of her life.
“Once you realize you are being treated unfairly, differently and excluded you become passionate about being treated fairly. I have taught my students that everyone is equal. That everyone should be treated fair and with kindness and respect,” said Taylor. “I knew that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was something I have always done and something I wanted to continue to do.”
After relocating to Virginia this past April, Taylor came to North Cross because it was highly recommended.
“After hearing about North Cross, interviewing, and being on campus,” Taylor said, “I felt it would be a great school to work for.”
During her time at North Cross, Taylor said that she wants to provide a safe space for students, where everyone will feel respected and part of the school.
“I see North Cross as an institution that will embrace different cultures, religions, races, economic status and sexual orientation,” Taylor said, “A place where everyone is comfortable, acknowledged and celebrated.”
Taylor continued by saying that she wants to “increase awareness about biases and stereotypes that many do not know that they have and display.”
So far, Taylor has already made a positive impact on the school by involving the students in Hispanic Heritage Month. She recently announced that she will be giving out a gift card to the person who can name the most influential Hispanic People.
Stephen Belderes, the director of the upper school, said that he is highly impressed with Ms. Taylor’s ability to make a difference at North Cross.
“I think she has already brought a positive change, just in the relationships that she has already established in the last three weeks,” Belderes said. “I’ve actually been really impressed with that.”
“I want everyone to understand we can not fix problems we do not acknowledge,” Taylor said. “Talking and learning about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion does not cause division, it brings awareness.”